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BUS REPORT Spring 2012

"There's No Substitute for Face Time"

Thomas Built Buses offers a full line of SCR-equipped school buses

In 2007, Thomas Built Buses integrated sales and service functions to enhance its customer experience. And now, with the new year, the company has launched a newly expanded sales and service field organization that builds on that foundation. The goal: to increase face time with dealers and customers.

Ken Hedgecock, Thomas Built vice president of sales, marketing and service, says: "The buying process is becoming increasingly complicated as customer resources are reduced in today's challenging economy. There's just no substitute for having the right people in the field, providing assistance and working side-by-side with our dealers and customers. This expansion and reorganization allows us to partner even more closely with our dealers, creating effective programs that will benefit our customers."

Thomas Built is increasing its field sales and service force by about 20 percent at a time when many are cutting back. The expanded Thomas Built model creates a fifth geographic region, reducing the number of dealers assigned to district sales and service managers and making it possible to give more attention to each dealership and its customers.

Staffing the five regional groups are:

Vance Nofziger, regional sales manager, will lead the dealer sales team, and Mitch Miller, regional service manager, will lead the dealer service team. Cory Compton, government fleet sales manager, will focus specifically on sales to the federal government. Dee Dee Campbell will continue in her current role as manager of sales operations, and Joe Craver will continue as direct sales manager.

In addition, Paul Start will lead a newly-created market growth development team, responsible for developing effective, customer-centric programs. With their extensive knowledge of the school bus industry and Thomas Built systems, Sid Adams and Chris Blaha also will join the market growth team.

What does this restructuring mean to customers? Nofziger says that dealers will get more in-depth attention through increased interaction with sales and service managers. "And, in the end, spending more time with dealers and customers helps strengthen those relationships and lets us learn more about their needs."

"With smaller geographic areas of responsibility," says Miller, "the Thomas Built field teams will be able to visit dealers more often and talk to customers about their specific needs. Having those conversations will help us serve everyone better, all the way from product development to on-the-job problem solving."

This customer-focused initiative is firmly rooted in Thomas Built Buses' long-term commitment to taking care of its customers. "While the business advantage may be hard to measure," Hedgecock says, "this restructuring meets our sales and service goals of working with dealers, calling on customers and giving dealers tools to improve service. There's no substitute for face time."